Adjust oven rack to middle position, preheat to 350°F and place the sugar in a 10-inch stainless steel skillet.
Toast in the oven until fragrant and pale gold, like white sand, stirring thoroughly every 20 minutes or so to circulate sugar away from the edges of the pan. The whole process will take about 1 hour, but it can vary significantly depending on oven temperature accuracy, skillet size and shape, and frequency of stirring.
Pour warm sugar into a glass baking dish to speed cooling before use. The cooled sugar can be used right away, or stored in an airtight container indefinitely.
Brown Butter ~30 mins
In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
Increase to medium and simmer. Stir with a whisk & scrape bits that form along the pan, until butter is golden & nutty smelling.
Pour & scrap browned butter into stainless bowl of a stand mixer, then place in a ice bath to quickly chill until creamy and opaque.Brown butter can be refrigerated up to a week in an airtight container and then warmed to room temp before use.
Cake, Cake, Cake
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position & preheat to 350°F.
Lightly grease & line 2 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
With your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all creaming ingredients on low speed until incorporated.
Increase to medium speed and beat for 4 minutes.
Scrap down bowl then continue beating at medium speed until pale & fluffy. ~3-4 minutes
Still on medium speed, add eggs one at a time, letting each fully incorporate before adding the next.
Reduce speed to low. Add 1/3 of flour then 1/3 of milk at a time until fulling incorporated and smooth. Batter will be very creamy.
Divide evenly between prepared pans (570g) & bake until cakes are pale gold & firm to the touch. (~50 mins)
Cool to room temperature in pans, then invert onto a wire rack. Remove parchment paper.
Frost & decorate immediately with your favorite recipe, or wrap for storage in fridge/freezer.
If you're not up to browning the butter or toasting the sugar, I get it. Just omit the water.